When we imitate Mary in her humility,
we disarm Satan of his
power to control us. Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv
points out the vital role of the Woman
clothed with the sun - the Blessed
Virgin Mary and how, relying on her
through prayer and exemplifying all she imparts by living her
messages, we imitate Our Lady's virtues and can better fend off the evil one, because we are doing what her Divine Son Jesus
asks of each of His children.
Know Your Enemy
Altarpiece of St Michael - by DAVID, Gerard - from
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna . . . . . .
Know Your Enemy
by Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv
|The Army of Men from Tolkien's great Catholic
epic "Lord of the Rings" is symbolic of the Church Militant here on earth. We
are all called to put on the Armor of Christ in the battle against Satan and his evil
The Subtleties of Satan
(The Raging Battle)
There is in our very midst a raging battle
in progress between the forces of good
and the forces of evil. There is an
army made up of those whose primary objective in life is to fulfill the
wishes of God, the wishes of Him to Whom
every creature owes its existence. There is also an army of those who are
in opposition to the wishes of the Creator, choosing rather to follow out their own
wishes, setting themselves up as gods unto themselves.
The army of those wishing to give their allegiance to God,
is being led by Mary, the Mother of God.
It is God Himself
Who appointed her as the leader of the army, which fights for that which is
good and holy.
The army of those who choose to turn their backs on God,
wishing to live a life totally independent of Him,
is being led by a self-appointed leader, Satan.
In the final analysis, therefore, this very battle
between good and evil,
narrows itself especially in our day to a raging conflict
between the forces of Mary
and the forces of Satan.
As leaders of their respective armies, both Mary
and Satan, have their individual objectives.
Originally, Satan, as Lucifer,
mutinied against God. "I refuse to be a servant of Yours," is the
paraphrased statement given by him to God. Because Lucifer
was a top ranking angel, he
had many angels under him
who followed him in his defection from God.
It is not known how many nor what they did
once out of the presence of God, but when Adam
and Eve were created, they
came in on the scene in the person of their leader,
There are those theologians who posit a possibility
that God created human
beings to fill the empty places in Heaven
left by the fallen angels. When Satan and his angels
fell out of the bond of love
between God and themselves,
they turned to hatred.
Satan sought to gain revenge
by deceiving Adam and Eve,
causing them to take their allegiance away from God
in order to capture them for himself. This
same expression of revenge is found in our
midst this very day.
what Satan is about and works lovingly to protect her
children from his trickery and snares. She
has received from the Triune God all that is
needed to strengthen her
children in such a way that Satan's power over
them is thwarted. As the Mediatrix of all graces, she
places at the disposal of each of her
children who turn to her for assistance,
whatever it is that they need in order to become aware of Satan's
deceptive ways, and be able to overpower him.
It is Mary's wish, as our
Mother, as the Mother
of Jesus the Redeemer,
as the Spouse of the Holy
Spirit, and most assuredly, as the beloved
Daughter of the Heavenly Father,
to carry out the plan that has been set
forth by the Father to bring that salvation, merited
for mankind by the suffering
and death of her
Son, to every human
being who has the desire to be saved.
Her chief objective, therefore, is
diametrically opposed to that of Satan's. Satan works for the damnation
of all human beings, Mary
works for their salvation.
The Subtleties of Satan
(Feelings suffocate Reason)
With all of this said, let us now turn attentively to the means that Satan uses to bring about the damnation of every human
being. Let us remember that Satan
still has his angelic
nature - not that he
is angelic. In addition, we are told that he held a very high position in
the court of heaven. His intellective
qualities were of the highest calibre; the power
coming forth from his angelic
will was exceedingly great. He
is assuredly well equipped to carry out his heinous
objective of bringing every human being
to an eternal ruin. He
is no match for any mere human being. In
fact, putting to use the perfection's given
to him in his
creation, he can readily outsmart
and cunningly overpower all human
beings put together with the exception of her,
who is the Immaculate
one. He can neither outsmart
her nor does he
have the slightest power over her.
As the great deceiver,
Satan is very clever. He
can run circles around anyone of us. He can
influence our thinking without our knowing
it. He is able to manipulate our minds
in such a way that we are led to behave in opposition
to the Will of God. He can so jam
the network of our intellect that the very
notion of God can be blotted out. He can - and does - keep our minds
so stimulated with new incoming thoughts
that there can be not even one thought left of God
and goodness in them. As the prince of this world, and, with the angelic powers which are his,
Satan has easily led mankind
to a culture which wholly centers around intellection,
to the degree that there is no room for the activities of
the will. Not only can he do
this, as has been said, but also he has
already done it.
tamper with our wills. This is off limits to him
by God's command. God
has made the will
to act freely, and only He can work with it,
move it, and yet, it
remains free to act. Satan
can get to the will, though. He can do it indirectly. How? He can and does enter into the mind. Through the mind
he gets into the emotions
and through the emotions, when we act emotionally, he
enters into our behavior. His power
is great over the person who lives by
his/her feelings. Satan
knows that emotions, by and large, can
control our everyday behavior especially in those individuals who are ignorant of the gift of the will and act
only by how they feel. One FEELS like or does not FEEL
like doing something. When one allows himself/herself to be governed by feelings, it is not the
same as positing behavior with a clarity of mind
and a freedom of
the will. Satan
has so worked things in today's lifestyle of people that he pretty well dominates what is
done in our present day world.
The Subtleties of Satan
One of the other subtleties of Satan is that he
so cleverly works things that it becomes part of the way we live in our day, to take life EASY. DON'T EXERT,
is the order of the day. Well, you may say, what's so bad
about that? When we don't exert, we do not have
power to resist evil, nor do we have energy
to do that which is virtuous. We become like
strands of straw in a fast flowing river. When we do not put forth effort into life, we
become victims of every force in life. Every
fad, every promotion of the media governs our behavior. We do not have the energy to make
decisions for ourselves. Because Satan has
taken the world to be his own, he governs it in the way that serves his purpose; he,
together with the demons under his charge, men and women who have given
themselves over to him.
CONFUSE THEM! That is
the order that Satan gives to his legions. When the mind
does not know what to do or what even to think, Satan
has us in the palm of his hand. We
know what it feels like when we are driving along to a destination and we become confused because we either took a wrong turn or missed a road sign. Satan thrives on confusion.
Hardly does our world today recognize the darkness
it has been put into because of the manipulations of Satan
in bringing mankind into a state of utter confusion.
What gives him
special jubilation is when he sees that he has succeeded in bringing confusion
into Christ's Church. Through this, he has put a noose around the necks of the faithful, for in the state
of confusion, they
do nothing. Spiritual growth, evangelization, and the influence of the Holy Spirit are brought to a halt, or, to a very
Another subtlety Satan thrives on is the
introduction of speed into our daily living. HURRY UP!
The mind and the will
cannot work well when there is the pressure brought on by our culture propelling it to
speed everything up. Our way of life is a far cry from that of our grandparents. In years
gone by, there was a more deliberated life. People were not so in a hurry and so could
take more time to think more clearly and to do things better. It is an interesting point
that, as we have with us fast foods, fast this and that, instant this and instant that, we
still complain that we don't have time to do what is expected of us. "Hurry up and wait" comes to the foreground quite
often. How does Satan gain in all of this?
When we try to pray and when we try to serve God, it does not work when we do it in a
hurry. The mind and especially the heart need to be in a peaceful
state if they are to do
their best in the service of their God. God is deprived of so much when we try to give to Him what is His
in a hurry.
The process of separating the faithful
from their Shepherd is also one of Satan's subtle ways in gaining control of human beings and revenging
himself on God. He, amongst other means, uses the media to accomplish this. There is the dissecting of whatever comes out of the Vatican
for the faithful. It is no business of the media, but the media
makes it its business and makes it very difficult
for the faithful to give respect and obedience
to what the Holy Father as the Supreme Shepherd, wishes
of his flock. There is so much of the priest bashing
going on. Satan has a major part in this,
and through it, prods people to lose reverence
for their priests upon whom in so many ways they depend so much.
There are many more subtleties,
too many for us to go into now. From what has been already put forth, it is clear that Satan is shrewd
and cunning. He
is pulling out all stops and making use of every one of his
fallen angels, as also people in our midst into whom he
has entered, to bring destruction to faith, to trust,
to love, to obedience.
We must be careful not to become obsessed by him
or his ways, for then, we, too, play into his hands.
The Subtleties of Satan
(Mary's Plan for Us)
Dragon stalks Woman and Child
(symbolic of Mary/Holy Mother the Church and Her priests) from the Book of Revelation
When you and I entered the world, we were indeed unaware that we had been born
into an arena wherein there is raging a continuous battle
between the Woman clothed with the Sun and the Angel submersed in Darkness. Although the
opportunity was given to us in Scripture,
and, although we may have been told of this ongoing battle,
it is not until recent times that anyone of us have had the internal depth experience that
there was a war raging, and that each one of
us, by the designs of God, is to take an
active part in it. It is expected of you and
me to make a decision whether to stand with Mary,
or with Satan.
Nor is it so simple as to make one decision
once and for all. Angels could do so and
have done so, but humans have it otherwise.
We struggle day
in and day out in our
decision making. Satan, as the Great Deceiver, revenging
himself against God, wishes
to steal us from Him,
our Creator. Mary,
having been given by Jesus, our Savior, the motherly
charge over each one of us, pleads that we remain close to her that she
might carry us in her arms to the Father to Whom
we really belong. Satan uses subtleties to confuse
and trip us up. Mary
makes use of her motherly wisdom and love
that we might not only clearly understand
the ways of Satan, but obtains graces for us that we might have continual power over him.
Previously, we had given some thought to Satan's
subtleties. Let us now turn our attention to what it is that Mary asks and pleads for in order to give us a helping hand to detect these subtleties
and to opt continuously for the directives she
Foremost, and perhaps the most basic of her
directives is that we pray. She emphasizes
this often by repeating the word "pray" three times, i.e. PRAY,
PRAY, PRAY. In addition to this, over and over again she speaks of the necessity to pray with the HEART.
She asks that we seek guidance from her Spouse Who
is the Source of Wisdom, understanding and knowledge.
She makes it clear that if we pray, we will find out what it is that the Father wants of us. She
continually requests of us to pray the Rosary for in this form of prayer
all of the above can be put into practice.
Mary is the Mother
of all children whether these be good, bad or indifferent,
whether these be of the True Faith, of other
faiths or of no faith at all. It is to all of her children, all without one
single exception, that she pleads
for prayer from them. Prayer
is the umbilical cord that connects each human
being with his/her Maker and
Owner. This cord may be of different sizes,
different textures, different forms, but it must be there if human
beings are to be in touch with their
Source of Life. Imagine an employee
who never touches base with his/her employer. There are many of God's
most special creatures on earth who never make contact with Him.
Especially for these does Mary weep. She
knows well that Satan is the chief destroyer of this umbilical cord, thus
contributing to a condition that keeps the minds
of human on themselves
rather than upon their God.
The Subtleties of Satan
Mary, knowing full well the ploys of Satan,
begs through some of her instruments that we
go deep, deep, deep into prayer that we get
into that prayer that is sponsored by her Spouse,
the prayer of contemplation. She knows that the winds
of immorality are so strong that unless her
children put their roots deep into prayer,
they will be blown away and lost forever. She warns against simply SAYING
never says that we should SAY prayers,
SAY the rosary.
She knows that unless we have the EXPERIENCE of prayer,
wherein we humbly speak from the heart with our Father,
and receive His Words
through our hearts, we become easy prey for Satan.
Because Satan is prince
of this world, he
uses everything at his disposal to keep us
away from prayer and/or so active in mind with material
things, that we cannot pray
without being plagued with distractions.
Making use of his many intriguing ways, he has seen to it that hardly any one speaks of goodness, that hardly any one speaks of the source of goodness, the will. Without the use of our will,
it is impossible to keep our mind on God even for a minute.
It is the will that has power, and most especially with grace, to harness the mind
and to raise it up to God.
It is for this reason that Our Lady
emphasizes that we pray with the HEART. The word HEART
is being used synonymously with the word WILL.
does not think, reason, judge, with his brain; he does these things with the supra-organic faculty of mind or intellect, a faculty of the soul.
intellect, intelligence, reason
Satan is the essence
of evil; Mary is
the essence of goodness. Satan lives and operates in the height and depth,
length and width of hatred. Mary, immersed within the Spirit
of Love, will ultimately crush
the head of the Angelic Hater. She asks us to help her
in this by converting to her Son Who teaches us by word and example to love all, even our enemies.
As followers of Jesus, we are to be LOVERS. Satan,
on the other hand, strives with all of his angelic power to keep human
beings in the head, i.e., the mind.
He enjoins upon whomever he can, to be SMARTIES.
The raging battle, therefore, is between LOVERS and SMARTIES.
Mary teaches us that if we would become LOVING SMARTIES, wherein both of these qualities flow from
our Divine Guest, the Holy
Spirit, we have tremendous power
over Satan. We will become aware of his traps; we will help to counteract his hatred with our love. (Love
is an act of the Will)
All that has been presented above comes under the umbrella of DOCILITY.
Our Heavenly Mother
offers this as one of her main directives.
To be docile means to be clear of mind and open
of heart to receive the influxes
of the Spirit of God. It is this Spirit Who
is the SANCTIFIER. It is He Who has the responsibility to remind us of all
that Jesus taught. It is He, together with Mary,
Who brought Jesus
into our midst the first time. It is He, Who,
together with Mary, will bring on the Second Advent of Jesus
into our midst. It is the Divine Indweller Who,
abiding within each of those baptized, will
help to make all those of good will, simple as doves, shrewd as
serpents. It is for this reason that Mary
is directing us to look for guidance from her
knows how imperative it is for each one of us to live with the Holy
Spirit, giving Him a continuous,
generous and free FIAT.
Mary pleads with us to live within the Divine Will, so
that we, as her children, will pattern
ourselves after her. When we are so
connected with our God, we are in the
position to help Mary to expose the subtleties of Satan and to defeat him,
first in our own life and through that, in
the lives of our brothers and sisters.
as "The Handmaid of the Lord," instructs
us in humility. She
knows how important it is for each one of us to live in lowliness,
in obedience, to our Heavenly
Father. Satan's number one sin
is pride. Satan
introduced pride to our first
parents and through them to each one of us. It is her
loving concern for her
children that she directs us to imitate her. It is no difficult task for children to
imitate their mother. It falls within the nature of the child. Our humility
is a powerful weapon against Satan's
usurped power over us. When we imitate Mary in her
humility, we disarm Satan
of this power.
Finally, Mary never stops asking her
children to live in harmony with each other.
Every mother wants her
children to get along lovingly and to live peacefully with each other. When an effort is
made, prompted by grace, to give respect to
each PERSON, MADE TO THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD,
we weaken and make dull the sharp points of confusion
and disunity that Satan
makes use of to keep us at odds with each other, thus being of no help to Our Mother in her
battle against him.
Again, it is to the Great Unifier, the Holy Spirit, to Whom
we must resort to be one as Jesus and the Father
Because the bond between the mother and the child
is the greatest bond known to mankind, the Triune God sent Mary
to us to whisk us out of Satan's clutches.
If we do not heed her, if we insist on going
our own way, we will be lost. Mary is our Leader
against Satan. If we fail
to follow her, we will be lost to him.
To refrain from making a decision to follow Mary by placing ourselves under the protection of her
Mantle, is to make a decision to be swallowed
up and fall victim to the subtleties of Satan.
Mary is the Gift
of the merciful Father to each one of His children. While there is still time we are
encouraged to implement her directives in
our daily living.
Let it be known that there are many more directives that Mary gives than those mentioned. These can be
obtained through our life of prayer
and through our life with the Holy Spirit.
Through our prayer life, prompted by the Spirit, we will not only become aware of these,
but will be assisted in implementing them into a network of Gospel